Several years ago Suffield’s Academic Technology Coordinator Matt Graham suggested that a 3D printer would be a wise investment for the school. Fast forward to today where the technology department now has three 3D printers that anyone at Suffield—teachers and students alike—can utilize. Several teachers are taking advantage of the printers including Mrs. Henle and Ms. Vasilenko, who are printing models to help teach certain kinds of integral calculus, and Mr. Caginalp who has made use of them in Chemistry. One of the most interesting things about 3D printers is they are able to print their own replacement parts—often as much as 25% of a 3D printer is made up of parts that have been printed.
When asked what the most interesting things they have printed so far are, Dan Ennis ’21—who is working in the technology department this summer—cited a coronet with fully functional valves, and Matt Graham recalled printing a fully autonomous hydroponic growing system a few years ago. They were able to print everything from the brackets to the hardware and also write the programs to turn on the lights and sprinkler system to stimulate the growing process. Matt recalls that Dan was involved in that project before being accepted to Suffield Academy. Matt had been working on programming for the seed cups in his growing system and when he needed another set of eyes he asked Dan’s older brother to have then-middle schooler Dan take a look at the work. The next day, Dan figured out the solution that Matt had been seeking.
One of the projects the team is working on this summer is creating a server that will allow any teacher or student to virtually watch what is being printed and send jobs directly to the printers to be created. The goal is to have even more community members using the printers, whether directly through the curriculum, by printing models for teaching, or even for use in creating props for the theater department. The possibilities are endless and Suffield is fortunate to have these wonderful resources.